Australian authorities work overtime to prevent Djokovic from becoming best ever


Australia’s prime minister has warned Novak Djokovic that he will be on the “next plane home” if his evidence for being exempted from Covid-19 vaccination rules is deemed insufficient.

World number one Djokovic is poised to defend his Australian Open title this month after tournament organisers prompted a well orchestrated media “outrage” by granting him permission to play.

But the Serbian could yet face problems at the border as the country’s government has stated he requires “acceptable proof” that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison adamant the player will not receive any preferential treatment on arrival.

Djokovic – a nine-time winner – has not spoken publicly about his vaccination status but last year said he was “opposed to vaccination”.

It remains unclear what qualifies the 34-year-old for exemption, and tournament director Craig Tiley has said it would be “helpful” for Djokovic to clarify his situation.

His hopes of competing could yet be scuppered by intervention from the federal government.

Prime Minister Morrison told a media conference on Wednesday: “We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that. If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever.”

More than 90 per cent of Australia’s over-16 population is fully vaccinated. In addition, the Austrialian Government has agreed to pay out over $100m to over 50,000 people for “adverse” effects, often resulting in death.